Inside the Pottsmouth Coffeehouse, the barista looked over the crowd of nervous people. Some were, in fact, customers, sipping from painted mugs or nibbling on the breakfast pastries the coffeehouse offered. Others, however, had joined the patrons once it became clear the situation wasn't going to blow over anytime soon. WKXZ was still playing in place of the normal 'alternative rock' station, with no real updates. One area was without power, water wouldn't be an issue for some time nor food though the latter would blow through the city government's budget if things didn't improve. She couldn't say she blamed the non-customers for huddling in the coffeehouse, not with the way shadows loomed outside and the sky stayed blacker than espresso.
Though she would admit, she at least wished they'd consider buying something.
The station abruptly cut out and fizzled with static, grabbing everyone's attention. Was the radio station hit with a blackout? Were signals getting jammed now?
Ladies and gentlemen, and others! Children of all ages! A-ha, how y'all doing? The barista squinted as the unfamiliar voice spoke over the Pottsmouth Coffeehouse speakers. WKXZ radio had never been her favorite station, but she couldn't imagine them abruptly pulling the host off the air for some... weird... game-show-sounding guy. I'll be your host for a while. Just for today, we'll be hosting a very special game, in honor of our newest contestant in the race to control Kingsport! The barista felt her face grow pale. What the hell was this? And all of you have been chosen to participate! Congratulations! Oh god. Oh no.
"Everybody, we need to go!" Panicked, maybe, but there was no way this could end well.
Presenting our newest contestant: FIREBIRD!
Before anyone could escape the building, Firebird threw down her fireball, creating a wall of flames that surrounded the entire building. The flames lit up the surrounding area, and made it so no one could get in or out. She strutted inside, creating another large fireball in her hands. "Did I hear someone say my name?" She asked, her smile growing wider. Adrenaline pumped through her veins as she stared down all the terrified people. She felt so powerful.
Someone tried running past her to the door, but before he could get there, she stuck her leg out and kicked his legs, making him drop to the floor. Firebird then grabbed him by his shirt, pulling him up off the ground. The man started to scream as her hand grew hotter and hotter. "What? Too hot to handle?" She smirked, then dropped him back on the ground. The man desperately crawled back to the back of the room, a nasty burn on the back of his neck. "Now, have I made my point clear?"
Sparks darted toward the power outage but was distracted on her path when a coffeehouse literally went up in flames. As much as she wanted to keep going to figure out what was happening, the lives at risk mattered more than anything. She redirected herself and disappeared into the building's electrical. She stopped briefly at one of the many cameras hanging in the building to get a better idea of the situation, seeing what the camera could see...
Someone was taking advantage of the situation to have fun.
She scowled and launched herself out of the camera, landing between the people and the woman. Eyes narrowing behind the mask, "What do we have here?"
Adelaide jumped a little, her eyes widening at the woman in front of her. But she quickly regained her composure."Oh, Sparks, is it? I've seen you around before. On the news, mostly. You're here to stop me, I'm guessing?" She smirked, taking a step forward. Her hands were visibly glowing from the amount of heat radiating off of them. "Well, hun, I suggest you-" Before she finished her sentence, she thrust her hand forward, palm outward, and fire spewed out of it, kind of like a flamethrower.
Fortunately Sparks had been at this for a while, seeing the heat glowing off her hands meant the movement pinged off something in her head when her hands moved in her direction. "It's not going to be that easy." She warned, electricity jumping off her body before she launched a ball of sparks at her, a small attack. She needed to conserve.
Adelaide jumped back, creating a small barrier of fire, blocking the attack.
Careful, Firebird. What you have in power, she can make up for in experience. See if there's anything you can use. It seemed like Sparks couldn't hear FM. He punctuated his advice with the crunch of popcorn.
Firebird's brow furrowed as she thought of something. Suddenly, she threw a fireball into the crowd behind her. Screams were heard, and she smiled. "For each attack you throw at me, I throw one at them." There, that'll have to work.
Sparks' eyes narrowed, "And what? I stand here and wait for you to do it anyway?" She retorted instantly. Couldn't exactly hold the people over her when she was going to go after them anyway. "Why are you doing this? She asked, electricity building in her hands, sparks dancing between her fingers.
There was a crackle from the coffeehouse's speaker, somehow apparently functional despite the blazing inferno below. Oh, Sparky - can a friend call you Sparky? - tell me, what's going to happen when this doesn't end? When we run out of food and water? What will we do then? Why not buy us some time?
Accalia, who had been pressing on into the blacked-out area, noticed a change in the wind, and with it, an unmistakable scent; one that made the alarm bells of instinct in her hindbrain ring. She stopped, turning her head and angling her nose. She had to be sure, though her superior olfaction didn't lie: she took in a deep sniff and then exhaled with a huff. Yeah, that was smoke. And now that the smell had hit her, her eyes picked up the change in light, the orange glow of fire cutting through the artificial night.
She turned, cracked her knuckles and stretched. It would take much too long to arrive at the scene on only two legs, so she transformed into her lupine form: She-Wolf loped toward the light, the acrid smell growing ever stronger as she approached. To her dismay, there was no way she could get inside, past the wall of fire. It drew a low, distressed whine from her chest as she heard screams from inside.
Okay, damn it. She would have to go human for a minute. She changed back and swore softly under her breath, knowing how much energy that would sap from her when she needed it. The building next door was locked, she discovered. Hoping whoever owned it would forgive her, she smashed the window with a blow of her foot before hopping in. Okay, look around, gotta be quick.
Where in the hell was a fire extinguisher when someone needed it?
Oh! There! Accalia rushed to the glass cage holding it, shattered it, and grabbed the extinguisher. Then back out she went, scrambling, nearly tripping over herself as she stood before the main door of the establishment and fired a stream of––what was it, carbon dioxide?-- at the inferno. Carefully, with her gloves, she pushed the door open. It was not the stealthiest of entrances but it would have to do.
"Can't leave anyone alone for a damn minute," she growled exasperatedly.
"Shut up." Sparks said simply, the electricity initially prepared for the woman instead being thrown much like a baseball, flying through the air and smashing into the speaker with enough force to jolt it in place, leaving the broken speaker hanging off the wall by a single corner.
Temper, Sparky! And the voice cut into static.
Sparks glanced in the direction of the smashing open of the front entrance, her shoulders easing just a smidgeon. Nigh unnoticeable unless you were observant enough. "It's Sparks. And one day I'll make sure you don't forget it...whoever you are." She said, knowing there was more to this voice than just a puppet trick.
"Aw, did you have to do that to my friend? My feelings." She tsked, shaking her head. "Temper like that won't get you anywhere."
Her eyes switched over to the woman, "I don't care about the feelings of those who want to risk others lives for their own sick reasons." She replied, firm now. Sarah had, had enough experience to know better than to buy that. Her own life had been played with enough by sick people who just wanted whatever they wished.
While the hero and the villain bickered, Accalia rushed toward the crowd of terrified civilians. Though she doubted Firebird would let her rescue anyone that easily, she could at least try to make sure they were alright.
Still, she had to be careful. The smoke was just starting to make her throat sore, and she felt much too hot, and she knew better than to turn her back on an enemy. She gave a cursory glance and sniff––someone had a blistering burn on his throat. She glanced toward Sparks and wished for a moment that her power could be telepathy. People didn't understand the wordless wolf-speak she would have used. Instead, she made a vague and subtle gesture with the fire extinguisher in one hand.
"Hm... you're brave, Sparky. But bravery can also be confused with stupidity." Firebird's hands began to glow once more, but this time, two whips of fire dropped from her hands. "Now, enough talking. Let's start talking my language." She drew her arm back, then started using the red-hot whip on Sparks. She struck a few times, at least one strike connecting with Spark's skin.
Whatever Shewolf was trying to say it seemed Sparks intended to continue fighting anyway. Even with the hit she barely flinched, even grinning brokenly, "Weak." Sparks taunted even as she blocked the rest, threw a ball at her to avoid then charged forward, getting in close while she was distracted by the ball of electricity to crack her along the jaw with a charged fist.
Firebird growled, wincing at the punch and electricity. Using the close proximity, she punched Spark's stomach with her red-hot fists.
Which ended up burning the shirt, creating a hole.
Okay, she wasn't sure if Sparks had gotten the message but in any case, she could work with this. She gestured at the most injured one––the man with the burn on his throat––to be silent, and scooped him up in her arms. He wasn't too heavy, and he tensed when She-Wolf lifted him up. She carried him to the door, managed to get outside. The fires outside had died down, if only a little, but it was still hot as hell and choked by smoke.
"Call some help out here, if you can," she said, in her usual, disguised growling tone, before turning around and going back inside.
Before she could throw another hit, Firebird threw another fireball into the crowd. Sparks flinched and gripped her at her arm before kicking at her legs, "What the hell is wrong with you?!" She asked, "You aren't going to get me to stop. I know your stupid game. If I fight, you attack them. If I don't fight you attack them." She warned before building up way more energy than in the hand that was gripping her arm, letting the electricity pulse right into her body directly instead. Firebird screamed, and her whole body started heating up. In just a few seconds, her whole body was glowing and now untouchable. She could only do this for a few seconds, though, as it took way too much energy to do that for long.
Accalia let out a bark of alarm as the fireball flew into the crowd and caused them to scream and whimper. The smell of fear was almost as strong as that of the smoke. She motioned toward three people at the front, who had clearly been burned by the most recent attack. "Go, go, go," she hissed, taking one by the forearm and herding her toward the door. The two others followed, their bodies low as they cowered.
It was probably not the greatest idea to keep sneaking people right past Firebird. She returned to the crowd and crouched in front of someone dressed in a work uniform. "Please tell me there's a back door," she whispered.
He nodded, eyes wide and face pale.
"Okay, cool." She glanced over her shoulder at the sound of the scream, and then focused. "Stay here while I put out enough fire to let you guys out. Okay?"
Another shaky nod.
"Right. Be good." She-Wolf forced a reassuring smile and then trotted to the back, quickly locating the door. She kicked it open and was, predictably, met with a scarlet wall of fire. Stepping back, she used the rest of the extinguisher and threw it aside.
She rushed back and crouched, tapping a young woman on the shoulder. "Go," she growled. "I'll watch your backs."
No one moved. Too scared?
Too scared. She huffed. "Come on."
One person scrambled to their feet and started running.
Sparks leapt back but not without throwing the leftover energy at the woman. She wasn't going to let her get away with this. She was far too willing to put her life on the line for everyone here. She'd willingly die fighting Firebird if it meant buying more time for She-Wolf to get the civilians out.
Firebird's eyes darted to the crowd, which seemed to look smaller. "Ah.. smart fella, aren't you?" She panted. "FM, I could use a little help right now!" She growled, pushing a stray hair out of her face.
FM? Sparks scowled, "You're done here." She said stepping closer, ignoring the flaring pain against her stomach. "I don't know what kind of garbage takes advantage of the disaster we're already dealing with to hurt innocents....but you aren't going to get away with this."
The barista forced herself to breathe - pulled up her apron to cover her mouth better. This was a nightmare. She had done her best to help with the burned victims of - Firebird, the station announced? Her accomplice, probably, hacked the signal detector. It'd be mock-worthy were it not for the smell of burning flesh and the panic of the patrons that had led her to believe, for a few terrifying minutes, they were all going to die. Thank god some heroes showed up. They were trying to contain the supervillain to the best of their ability, but it wasn't doing much for the fire that kept spreading. The Pottsmouth Coffeehouse wouldn't be able to be saved.
Better it than her, she supposed. But why wasn't the sprinkler system going off by now? This much fire and smoke...
She-Wolf was trying to escort some customers out while the barista decided to try to manually activate the sprinkler system. Besides stopping the fire, maybe it'd put out Firebird and help out Sparks. There was a lever on the back wall, behind the syrup bottles, that she could pull to activate the fire alarm and turn on the sprinklers. She hesitated before quickly jumping to her feet, pushing past the bottles for the level, pulling - and nothing. It still wasn't active. What even-?
Firebird, I've done everything I can. I even turned off the smoke detector for you. I said we ought to act before the supers scrambled, and well. They've scrambled. FM spoke very patiently through the portable radio. I'd say a retreat is in order. I'll do what I can to cover, but we need to call it quits here. And for a very long time, Firebird could not hear FM - but she could see the remaining customers cringing, covering their ears-
Firebird's brow furrowed, obviously disliking the option to run. "Fine. But next time, I'm not leaving. I'm not a coward." She hissed, turning towards the door. Flames surrounded her as she ran, but they didn't seem to bother her. After passing through the fire wall, she escaped through a nearby alley. The air was cold compared to the heat of the burning coffeehouse, but she didn't dare make a flame in case anyone was nearby.
And then the infernal squealing started on the busted speaker, something so loud and high-pitched that the barista didn't doubt her eardrums would burst.
Sarah flinched and covered her ears and instinctively looked for She-Wolf. She'd be the worst effected by this naturally. As little as they've worked togther in the past, she didn't want the other hero to be hurt either. Dare say it she cared, at least a bit.
If the situation weren't so serious, one could almost say the face Accalia made was comical. She grimaced, quickly clapping her hands over her ears as well as accidentally biting her tongue. The taste of blood would have bothered her, if it weren't for the much-worse screeching.
Oh shit, was Sparks looking at her? She felt a distracted pang of embarrassment.
The barista barely got an eye open to see Firebird fleeing - the flames still licking high in their creator's absence, there were still too many people to try to get out the back, even if she was gone. There was a creaking before part of the ceiling collapsed under the heat and smoke damage - thankfully, not on top of anyone, but she knew it was only a matter of time.
The screech sputtered, resumed, cut out, stammered back on, and finally, finally stopped altogether, replaced by a new sound. It was awful to deal with, sure, but not as loud, not as high-pitched and, to the barista's ears, may as well have been a song of triumph: the fire alarm. The sprinklers finally came alive, raining water down on the flames. The fire department would be by soon, hopefully, to help clean up and treat the several burn victims Firebird had left in her wake. Then-
Well, folks, apology for the delay. I hope there weren't any casualties? For a moment, fear froze her in place as a masculine voice spoke over the speaker. Common sense then reasserted itself: the voice sounded different, lacking the chilling cheer of the 'announcer' from earlier and deeper in pitch. It seemed blunted in emotion, but if the voice's owner had cut that sound and restored the sprinkler system, she wasn't sure she minded.